Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Review: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

It's got a fun, quirky cover to go with its fun,
quirky story!
Title: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Poppy
Publish Date: Jan 2 2012

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (TSPoLaFS, for short—not that that is short, really...) is author Jennifer E. Smith's latest novel. (Follow her on Twitter!)

TSPoLaFS is one of those books that you see and for some reason you just know you want to read it.  And even though it might just have the longest title ever, it is a really quick and fun read.

It tells the story of teenage Hadley, on route to her dad's wedding. In England. To a woman who is NOT her mother. Needless to say, Hadley has feelings about this. She's mad at her dad for leaving her mother and mad at Charlotte, her dad's bride, for stealing her dad away in the first place. But mostly, Hadley is just mad at her dad for leaving her and moving to England.

When Hadley misses her flight and gets bumped back to the next flight, she thinks it's the worst thing in the world. Now it's going to look like she's trying to ruin the wedding on purpose. Not that she even wants to go anyway, but still. You don't ruin your father's wedding, no matter what the reason. But then she meets the gorgeous Oliver. And it would just figure that he's from England. He has the accent and everything. He's also sitting next to her on the plane. For the entire fifteen hour flight.

Could twenty-four hours be enough time to fix a broken relationship, come to terms with change, attend a wedding, crash a funeral, and maybe even fall in love?

I fell in love with TSPoLaFS almost from the get-go. I couldn't help myself. I related to Hadley and Oliver and loved learning about each of them through their shared stories and small talk. I was rooting for them from that very first moment. Their characters were both flawed and dysfunctional in their own ways, but they helped each other through it, mostly just by being there for each other at the right time. And isn't that what fate is all about? Placing people in each other's paths at the right time?

I'm not the biggest fan of third person narrative. I don't really know why, just something about it usually puts me off. But for this book it just worked. The story jumps back and forth between present time and Hadley's memories, so the third person perspective kept it easy to read and follow along.

To be honest, it was possibly my favorite romance I've read since Anna and The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. If you're looking for a cute romance with a lot of heart look no further than The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight!

Fun Fact: After reading TSPoLaFS, my sister, Taylor, made me buy her this ring, because it reminded her of Oliver. She loved the book THAT much!

If you like the ring you can check it out HERE on Etsy.com.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

TGIF! Feature, & Follow Friday (19)

Pretty new button. :}

Hey, there Pretties!

Do you know who's featured on Follow Friday this week? Us!

Rachel and Alison, you guys are freaking awesome for bringing us this amazing meme every week. Thanks for the chance to be your feature!

Be sure to check out our fellow feature,  Butterfly-o-Meter Books

What's the craziest thing you've ever done to get your hands on any particular book?

Jesse: I haven't done anything particularly crazy to get a book. No standing in line for hours to be the first to get a copy, or facing crazed fans at book signings. Honestly, the craziest thing I've ever done to get a book is probably pay a ridiculous amount for shipping. And by ridiculous, I mean $10. There is a book I'm dying to read that was published in Australia but the shipping ends up costing more than the book itself. $15-plus shipping is too crazy for a book. Even a book I'm dying to read. I'd rather wait on a never-ending line!

Kira: I can't really say I've ever done anything too crazy to get my hands on a book. Unless you count sleep deprivation, and cancelling a pre-order to get it quicker crazy. This was a group effort, back before PiF was PiF.

All of us Pretty Staffers were staying up, waiting for the release Mockingjay. I had pre-ordered an ebook copy for a number of reasons: 1) I wanted the freaking book already. 2) All of us wanted the freaking book already -- it's a lot easier to share an ebook with those you trust, than to fight over a copy with a pretty cover. 3) I don't know if any of you have noticed this, but ebooks through certain distributors (I notice it more with iBooks and Kindle books) tend to release early. So much so, that I've come to expect my eBook pre-orders at least one half hour before the 12 o'clock switch-over, eastern time (I believe the earliest time I recieved a pre-order was 10:30 the night before via iBooks. Don't remember which book, but it was fairly recent.)

Anyway, so we were, all edgy and eager with anticipation, squeeing over the phone--we couldn't wait to see what craziness Suzanne Collins threw these characters into next. 11:30 rolls around, no book. Ok, whatever. A little disappointing, but it technically isn't supposed to be out until at least 12am, anyway. So we waited. 12:30. 1 o'cock. 1:30 (instead of going to bed like a normal person would, we waited). 2  o'clock. I think it was around 2-something when Barnes & Noble finally put it up for the nook/nook reader app. We wound up dropping the Amazon pre-order and purchasing the book through Barnes & Noble.

Follow Friday Linky: (click to expand)

And, of course, what would Friday be with out a little TGI...? As per usual, Ginger from over at GReads! is slated to play our wonderful and gracious host.

Recommend It: Which book from the last 10 you've read would you recommend to a friend?

Jesse: Out of the last 10 books I've read, the one I would recommend most to a friend would be Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen. Scarlet is a re-imagining of Robin Hood with a strong heroine and an awesome hero. I mean, seriously, who doesn't like Robin Hood?! 

I've always had a crush on Robin, I just never really liked Marian as a heroine. She was an awful, whiny thing. So when I picked up Scarlet I was immediately a fan of Gaughen's heroine. Scarlet is a badass chick who deserves to be in Robin's band of Merry Men.

Scarlet releases Valentine's Day 2012. Watch out for my review, coming soon, and if you haven't already, put this on your TBR list. Better yet, pre-order your copy now. You won't regret it. Trust me!

Kira: Out of the last ten books I've read, I'm torn between several. I wish I could get you guys to read all of them. That said, I will leave you with what I believe to be the top three (and links to their reviews) to think about. Mind you, this isn't necessarily in any particular order.

  • Every Other Day, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes:
    Kali D'Angelo is not your average sixteen year old. At least not all the time. Every other day she turns into something...well, not quite human. She still looks the same, but for twenty-four hours she is stronger, faster, and driven by a lust to kill. Luckily, that lust is directed at the monsters that go bump in the night, because she is good at what she does. Too bad it's on one of her human days that she notices something that could change everything. One of her classmates has been marked for death, and only Kali can save her. Maybe. But what if her now too-human body can't handle it?
  • Adventures in Funeral Crashing, by Milda Harris:
    In her spare time, Kait Lennox can be found  crashing funerals, for fun. So long as she follows a strict set of rules she's made herself over the years, she can almost guarantee she won't be found out among the mourners. Almost. At least until she unwittingly attends the funeral of her long time crush's (coincidentally, THE hottest, most popular guy in school!) half-sister.

    He takes the whole crashing thing pretty well, given the circumstances. In fact, now he wants Kait's help. He believes there is more to his sister's death than meets the eye. Can the two uncover the truth?
  • Burnt Children, by R.E. Washington:
    Elaria is a Burnt Child. When she was born, she was born with what those in charge of Meli called the wrong kind of magic. Because of this, like all other burnt children, Elaria has had her magic ripped from her. Elaria is different from most of her Burnt Children peers, though: She can see magic. It this ability which sets Elaria's story in motion, for without she would never have been drawn to the magical pendant that causes her so much trouble without it.

    Burnt Children are not allowed to handle magical artifacts. Knowing this, Elaria takes the pendant, anyway, and shortly after she is on the run, for freedom and her life. The Purifiers are on her tail, they know of the pendant, and they know what it being in Elaria's hands means. The pendant is the key, and the conspiracy surrounding Elaria's life, what happened fifty years earlier to make people so afraid of the Burnt Children, soon starts to unravel. Ultimately, Elaria is left with a choice: Will she follow through with her original plans and find herself a safe haven? Or, will she help save the world?

    Be sure to check out Jessie's review of The Gathering Storm, by Robin Birdges!
  • P.S. Concerning GFC: Pretty in Fiction is a blogger blog, so I believe we are among those who do get to keep GFC. That said, if you would rather follow Pretty in Fiction another way, there are several options to choose from along our right side bar. Follow one way, or follow them all. Either way, we're happy to have you very Pretty Readers. :}

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

New Release - Review: The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

Title: The Gathering Storm
Author: Robin Bridges
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: Jan 10 2012

The Gathering Storm is author Robin Bridges first novel.

It tells the story of sixteen year old Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg. Katiya, as her family calls her, longs to be a doctor. She's wanted nothing more since her younger brother died as a baby. But Katiya lives in the late ninteenth century in Russia, a time when women were supposed to stay at home with the children, not go to medical school. Katiya is not only gifted with an intense love of science and medicine, but she also has a supernatural gift, or curse as she sees it. She is a necromancer, a powerful being who can control life and death itself. She doesn't know much about her gift other than that she can raise the dead, and she must forever keep her secret safe. But when people begin to realize just what she is capable of Katiya is thrust into a secret world that she thought existed only in old legends and fairytales. Vampires, fairies, an undead army. They all want something from Katiya, something sinister. It will take all of her power and a lot of luck to overcome the obstacles she faces.

I loved this book! I needed to put that out there. I smiled to myself through most of it. I probably looked like a total weirdo, but that's fine. I was having too much fun reading about Katiya and her world.

Katiya was a wonderful heroine. She was strong and refused to give in to the will of others, even though her situation seemed hopeless. Yes, there were times when she did stupid things or made bad decisions, but everyone does from time to time. And what would a book be without a few misguided decisions? But for the most part Katiya was strong and did what she needed to do to help herself and her family. Some of her reasoning seemed off to me at times, and I thought that if she had communicated more openly with her family some of her problems might have been avoided or at least less severe, but overall I enjoyed reading about Katiya.

Now here's the part where I talk about the love interest. Oh, Georgi! I fell in love with him pretty much right away. The tsar's son, Grand Duke George Alexandrovich, reminded me (more than a little) of a Russian Mr. Darcy. You know, if Mr. Darcy had ever carried a sword around and chopped undead folk's heads off. He was infuriating (-ly adorable) and stubborn and absolutely perfect for Katiya. I found myself waiting for him to show up, probably as much as Katiya was. I appreciated how they didn't just see each other and fall in love on the spot. (Insta-love can be so boring sometimes.) George distrusted Katiya, and Katiya thought George wasn't very nice himself. But their interactions kept me reading page after page.

Katiya's biggest problem throughout the book was that she was stuck in the box royal society had placed her in. The only person who she knew she could trust, Grand duke George, wasn't allowed to be left alone with her. Not for very long anyway. They didn't have free reign to run around St. Petersburg solving the mysteries they were presented. The only people Katiya was able to talk to we're the ones she knew were evil. All in their own ways of course, but still. Evil is evil. How do you trust someone you know has a stake in the bad things that are happening around you? How do you know which of the bad guys is telling you more truths than the other? How can you possibly tell which is the lesser evil? Usually something like that would annoy me, mostly because the heroine would naively trust someone and think that they're intentions were honorable. But not Katyia. She didn't really trust anyone. Not even George. Not really. She was always afraid of what he would think of her if he knew the extent of her powers. Which is another thing that would usually annoy me, but didn't. Not trusting a guy with all of your secrets when he threatens you with death for just some of those secrets? Yeah. I probably wouldn't either.

I've always had this romantic view of old Russia and The Gathering Storm just totally made my day. Even though the St. Petersburg in the novel is rife with supernatural creatures, I think Robin Bridges did a fantastic job weaving in the paranormal with the mundane so that the city still seemed realistic. If you're a fan of urban fantasy or historical fiction you'll want to read this book.

I highly recommend reading The Katerina Trilogy: The Gathering Storm. It's like reading a fairy tale and will have you up late into the night, reading about the magic and intrigue of Bridge's Russia. And I will be anxiously awaiting the sequel! I need more Katiya and George!

Friday, January 6, 2012

TGIF! Feature, & Follow Friday (18)

Well Pretties, it's been ages since last we had a chance to participate in these two wonderful Friday memes. We've greatly missed the fun these hops could bring, and are excited to jump back in for the New Year.

Firstly,brought to us by Rachel of Parajunkee and Alison of Alison Can Read, Feature & Follow Friday:

Go count the number of unread books sitting on your shelf. How many?

Jesse: On my literal shelf, I have about 10 books that have not been read yet. But if we're talking digital shelves, I don't think I want to count that high. I'll estimate and say it's around 200 though.

Kira: Oh, this should be fun...

Are we talking purely physical copies of books? Or digital, as well? Because if we're counting digital, this may take a while...
Physical: 21 (with a couple more floating around the house.)
iBooks: 76
Kindle: 36
Nook: 31
Adobe Digital Editions: 39
Stanza: 114
Kobo: 12
Bluefire: 2
Heh...so the grand total is: 331 books/ebooks, give or take a few. And that's just books/ebooks I have in my possession. I have a few more I'm expecting to arrive any day now, pre-orders, etc. Now you know what i mean when I say I'm so far behind on my reading...

Reading Resolutions: What are some of your reading goals for the new year?

Jesse: Last year my goal was to hit 100 books by December 31st 2011. I fell short of that goal, only hitting 75. This year I hope to make it to 100 books, if not more. Maybe whittle down that large number of unread books on my shelves (literal and digital alike).

Kira: Well, I attempted the 2011 challenge on Goodreads last year for 100 books. I failed miserably. In my defense, I was doing awesome, perfectly on schedule, 'til this whole blogging thing came along. I honestly didn't think it would take up so much of my reading time. Hopefully, now that I do know and have grown a bit accustomed to it, I can tackle that goal of 100 again, and actually succeed. So that's what I'm doing this year.

There are also a couple of other reading challenges for the year that I've been looking into. Not entirely sold on them yet, if only because I have to work my book blogging schedule around them. The Debut Author Challenge should pretty much be a go, though.

On a less challenge-y note, I want to finish the round-about 1200 books I'm in the middle of. Ok, so it's not really that many, but I'm terrible with the whole: Ohh! Shiny, new(-to-me) book! Must read and forget the other(s) thing. Let's just say I can no longer count on both hands how many books I've started but haven't finished yet, only because I got distracted by another book (and then another, and then another, and then...).

(Erm...well...past FOUR weeks. Yikes!)

* Our latest Book Boyfriend is the cocky (yet sweet) playboy of Kody Keplinger's The DUFF, Wesley Rush.
* We did a review of Shattered Dreams, the first novel in the Midnight Dragonfly series by author Ellie James.
* GIVEAWAY! and review of Indulge (Warm Delicacy, #2), by Megan Duncan (status: open; end date: 01.13.2012)
GIVEAWAY! and review of How to Date an Alien, by Magan Vernon (status: openend date: 01.13.2012)
* Every Other Day, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes was released on the 27th of December, as was our lovely little review of the book.
* Our only other Book Boyfriend since our last TGIF! FFF post was the fantastic Four of Divergent, by Veronica Roth.
* and, finally, We asked you Pretty Readers to pick two books you'd like to Read with PiF this month. The results (combining the votes both here and on Goodreads)? 

Be sure to grab your copies and start reading along January 10th - January 31st, 2012!

Clicking a cover will take you to the respective Goodreads' discussion page (discussions not up yet) for that book.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Book Boyfriend (11) Wesley Rush

It's time to introduce our first Book Boyfriend of the new year!

Hosted by the Missie of The Unread Reader, My Book Boyfriend is a weekly meme designed to let us girls go gaga over fictional guys.

This week, our guy of choice is Wesley Rush from The Duff, by Kody Keplinger.

It should be noted before moving further that The Duff is probably best suited for the 16+ age-range due to profanity and blatant sexual content.

 ** Be sure to click one (or both) the book covers above this post to enter one (or both) our our current eBook giveaways! **

Wesley Benjamin Rush:

* Tall - 6'2" 
* curly brown hair
* gray eyes
has a sneaky little grin
* pretty smart - has the 3rd highest GPA in his class

** When it comes to casting Wesley Rush, we have to agree that Ms. Keplinger's suggestion of Jeremy Sumpter is an excellent choice. **

Why We Love Him:

Jesse: Wesley Rush (what an amazing name!) is a total womanizer. He sleeps with anything that moves. He doesn't discriminate when it comes to sex. But that doesn't make him any less of a sweetheart when it comes to Bianca. He adores her. And even though he calls her Duffy, which hurts her feelings, he doesn't realize that it does. He never says anything to hurt Bianca on purpose. That's just not the kind of guy he is.

Wesley Rush has his issues just the same as everyone else. His come in the form of absentee parents, which is why he feels the need to surround himself with admirers who won't leave him. Broken boys are so my thing and Wesley Rush does not disappoint in that area. He's sad and lonely and acting out in the only way he knows how.

Reading through some of Wesley's quotes makes me remember just how much I loved him while reading The DUFF. He's so sweet when he wants to be! And did I mention just how swoon-worthy (and drool-worthy) Wesley is? Because he is. He really, really is. Wesley starts off hot, but a little rough around the edges. But by the end of the book he's the type of guy any girl would be dying to know.

Kira: Wesley Rush is actually kind of a jerk. I probably shouldn't love him as much as I do, but the truth is there's really so much more to Wesley Rush than meets the eye. The poor boy is a tortured soul (and you know by now how much we love those around here), he's smart, and when he wants to, he can show there's someone very sweet under that outer layer of ass.

Wesley's Cocky Quotes

(whoops!...I think I may have over quoted...I blame Wesley Rush and his irresistibleness. A lot of them are long ones, too.)

** Is purposely not using any quotes that might explain the title. If you haven't already, I'll leave that for you Pretty Readers to figure out. ;) **

Monday, January 2, 2012

Review: Shattered Dreams, by Ellie James

Title: Shattered Dreams
Author: Ellie James
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (an imprint of Macmillian
Pub. Date: December, 2011
  • Read the first chapter HERE

I really enjoy paranormal mysteries, and I think that shows in my love for  Shattered Dreams. Like with The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting, and Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann (as well as others) I was reminded of all the reasons why I love a good mystery novel (and left wondering why I don't read them more often), as well as treated to a little dash of paranormal to add a little spice to the story.

Sixteen-year-old Trinity Monsour wants nothing more than to live a normal life. But that isn’t as easy as it seems. Trinity is different. She is special. She sees visions, and for those she’s seen, it’s already too late. 
Trinity arrives on her aunt’s doorstep in New Orleans with virtually no knowledge of her mysterious heritage. She begins settling into life at a new school and even starts making friends. But all too quickly her dreams accelerate; twisted, terrifying visions of a girl locked in a dark room. And when the head cheerleader, Jessica, goes missing, Trinity knows she has no choice but to step forward with what she’s seen. 
But people believe that Trinity has information about Jessica’s disappearance not because of a dream, but because she is involved. She is kind-of dating Jessica’s ex-boyfriend, Chase, and Jessica did pull a nasty prank on Trinity. Revenge seems like the likeliest scenario. 
Nothing prepares Trinity for the dark odyssey that ensues while searching for Jessica, including the surprising romance she finds with Chase, or the shocking truths she learns, not just about the girl who has gone missing, but the past that has been hidden from her. (courtesy of Goodreads) 
I was really intrigued by this story. The whole psychic dreams aspect, while not original in the least, definitely adds an interesting element to any mystery. Especially when the person getting the visions is still trying to figure out what being psychic means.

Since she was younger, Trinity's grandmother has repressed the heritage passed down from Trinity's mother, saying that  she shouldn't talk- about what she could see, and that if she were to tell others they would turn from her. When Jessica disappears, because of what her grandmother had been telling her since she started seeing things, Trinity is left with an internal debate about what she should say, if she should say anything at all, about what she has seen of Jessica. I thought this conflict was portrayed nicely. The fears were justified (even in the context of the story), but I liked how she could also learn to let some people in, to trust them with the knowledge of what she could do.

What I didn't like was the floating evidence used "against" her. I say floating because that's basically what it's still doing now. Certain pieces of evidence that would point to Trinity's guilt as the perpetrator were thrown up into the mix to add conflict and uncertainty to Trinity's fate. Would they arrest her for what happened to Jessica because of this evidence and the details she knew? Or, would they learn the truth?

There was some speculation (mainly by Trinity) during the novel as to where the evidence came from, how it got where it was recovered, etc.. Some of this "evidence" was explained away at the novel's conclusion, but certain pieces (like the earning) never were. Are we meant to assume that Trinity's initial speculations were correct, then? Or was this merely and oversight?  Either way, it's something that wound up bugging me in the end.

I also wasn't too fond of how Chase was so quick to believe the worst in Trinity. Don't get me wrong, I understand how what is revealed about his past may have caused trust issues. But for someone who apparently put up with lot from his mean-girl, on-again-off-again ex-girlfriend and was still able to say she would have been a better person if such-and-such had happened instead of what did, he seemed quick to judge, here, on a person whom he already thought was a more decent individual. A little too quick to judge, if you ask me. It didn't seem entirely natural.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I think Shattered Dreams warrants 4.5 Crazy Hearts rating, so if you like a little paranormal with your mysteries, don't pass this one up. I can't wait for the next installment, Broken Illusions (due out May 8th, 2012 -- There is also a short story that was released before Thanksgiving, Haunted Destiny).
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